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"Most of it was encrypted. Not easy to decipher. But I have experience and patience. A man can do anything if he has those."

Films — Animated

  • The Book of Life: Land of the Forgotten ruler Xibalba grows bored of his reign and makes a wager for their kingdoms with the Land of the Remembered ruler La Muerte, concerning a Love Triangle between Manolo, Joaquin and Maria, Xibalba betting on Joaquin winning Maria's heart and Le Muerte on Manolo. Disguising himself as a beggar, Xibalba gives Joaquin a medal to make him immortal; later causes Maria to fall into a coma during Manolo's attempt at a heartfelt confession; and leads Manolo to his death. Though outed for his cheating, Xibalba then creates a new bet with Manolo having fight against all the bulls his bull fighting family fought in the past and gracefully accepts his defeat after he does so, honoring his deal and reconciling with La Muerte.
  • Rango: Rattlesnake Jake, the terrifying mercenary who slithers in the desert outside of Dirt, ends up employed by the corrupt mayor of the town as muscle, proving himself too vicious and threatening for even the mayor to fully rein in. Jake tears Rango down in front of the entire town by exposing his lies and drives him out before terrorizing the remaining townsfolk into obeying the mayor's scheme. Even despite his murderous temperament, Jake demonstrates a surprising amount of perception by seeing through Rango's ruse with a "hawk" comprised of hundreds of bats in a few seconds, and Rango finally proving himself a hero ends with Jake shamelessly acknowledging him as someone worthy of his respect — while personally dragging out the mayor to his doom for daring to double-cross him with one last Ironic Echo: "pretty soon, no one will believe you even existed."

Films — Live-Action

  • 3:10 to Yuma (2007): Ben Wade in the remake is a charismatic bandit leader who starts the film by driving cattle to block an armored car and then rob it. Famed for his brilliance and skillful gambits, Ben is eventually caught thanks to rancher Dan Evans and is sent to be taken to a train to be sent to Yuma prison with his former gang pursuing. Ben shows himself to be a slippery prisoner, constantly outwitting his captors and killing the most morally bankrupt of them. When he learns Dan's reasons for trying to get him to the train at the end, Ben even fights to assist in getting himself to the train and after Dan is mortally wounded, steps on board of his own free will, cementing Dan as a legend. Ben also reveals to Dan that he's been to Yuma prison twice-and escaped twice (which he and Dan both laugh over), and the film ends with him clearly planning his escape once again.
  • 12 Rounds: Miles Jackson is a suave, perpetually cheerful terrorist who masterminds the entire plot. Miles has evaded capture and conviction for his atrocities for years, always staying one step ahead of his law enforcement pursuers, and is introduced tricking a mole in his organization into betraying the F.B.I. and robbing them, after which Miles murders the same mole for ever thinking of turning on him. Though imprisoned for several years thanks to a freak accident, Miles breaks out of prison and sets up the game "12 Rounds" to be played with his arch enemy Danny Fisher. Using the excuse that he is getting revenge for his deceased girlfriend, Miles sets up various puzzles and traps throughout the city for Danny to figure out and stop, using the man's wife as a hostage the hold time. Miles' true magnificence comes with the reveal that the entire point of 12 Rounds was solely to serve as a long, complicated set-up to a bank robbery for millions of dollars, and that every round Danny played further assisted Miles in his scheme. Always ready with a quip and possessing a swaggering charisma that draws all eyes on him, Miles is an intelligent, charming villain, one capable of ridiculous amounts of manipulation and strategy, and whose very first scene illustrates his character perfectly by having him win a losing chess game for a stranger on a whim.
  • The Abominable Dr. Phibes: Dr. Anton Phibes himself is a cultured, accomplished organist and theologian lashing out after the death of his beloved wife. Blaming the surgical team, Phibes spends years in hiding, letting them believe him dead, until he resurfaces and begins to murder them in a series of killings designed to emulate the Ten Plagues of Egypt. Phibes is repeatedly a step ahead of every attempt to stop or capture him and ends the film almost completely victorious. Resurfacing years later, Phibes once again destroys his rivals as he seeks to restore his Victoria to life, ending up completely untouchable by the end, with his calculating mind seeing him through every challenge.
  • Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon: Leslie Vernon is an aspiring spree killer in the vein of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger who is chosen to be the subject of a documentary that the main character, Taylor Gentry, is making. Taylor ends up charmed by the shockingly charismatic Leslie who details to her and her film crew exactly how he plans to carry out his murder spree. When Taylor opts to interfere on behalf of the victims, she realizes Leslie's real plan: she and her crew were also intended to be his victims, and they're playing right into his hands, becoming part of his attack just as Leslie always intended. It turns out Taylor is actually Leslie's chosen 'final girl' to defeat him and seal his place in slasher legend. It also turns out Leslie predicted exactly how Taylor would defeat him and took precautions to survive this as well.
  • Catch Me If You Can: Frank Abagnale is a born Con Man whose first relatively harmless scheme involved impersonating his French teacher, fooling the entire school for weeks. His later criminal actions consist of acquiring millions of dollars by writing fraudulent checks, sending out fake letters, and posing as air plane pilots, doctors, and lawyers, all to live a lavish lifestyle spent in expensive hotels, throwing parties, and sleeping with numerous women he seduces, as well as a high-class prostitute whom he tricks into paying him for the night spent with her. When the FBI's Financial Crimes unit starts pursuing him, Frank cleverly manages to avoid capture numerous times, such as performing a Bavarian Fire Drill that convinces FBI Agent Carl Hanratty that Frank is a Secret Service agent, and in his most audacious scheme, smuggling himself through an airport filled with FBI agents by recruiting a group of handsome stewardesses to distract the men supposed to be watching out for him. Although the law ultimately catches up with him, Frank is a Lovable Rogue who is so good at what he does that he's able to elude the authorities for years and all before he was even 21.
  • Charley Varrick: Crop-duster turned bank robber, Charley Varrick, disguises himself as an injured old man to discreetly complete his theft. Discovering the money he stole belonged to The Mafia, Varrick suggests to his friend, Harman, that they lay low, avoiding spending it for four years, to avoid suspicion. When Harman's avarice leads to him spending, Varrick double-crosses him by swapping their dental records and forging a passport to confuse the hitman sent after them. Acting friendly to the corrupt bank president, Varrick leads the hitman to believe they are associates, resulting in the president being killed. Tricking the hitman into trying to retrieve the money from a car he rigged to explode, Varrick kills him, getting away clean.
  • Clue: Wadsworth, the real Mr. Boddy, is a ruthless blackmailer who is blackmailing every guest in the house. Having lured them to the manor, he used a body double to fake his own death as a decoy before manipulating every guest to murder his former co-conspirators and destroy the extra evidence so he no longer has to worry about their treachery. After having every impediment to his schemes killed, he reveals he knows the guilt of every single guest and plots to continue blackmailing all of them. Despite his villainy, Wadsworth conducts himself with total charm and a dapper congeniality, pleasant even after he's been shot.
  • Collateral: The enigmatic, philosophical Villain Protagonist "Vincent", is a ruthless yet suave Professional Killer, tasked with eliminating witnesses to the crimes of drug lord Felix Reyes-Torrena. Bribing taxi driver Max Durocher to unwittingly assist him, Vincent has Max transport him while he murders his targets. Genuinely affable, Vincent respectfully listens to the story of a jazz club owner before offing him and visits Max's sick mother in the hospital, even bringing her flowers. Adapting when Max destroys the files on his targets, Vincent has Max retrieve a new copy from Felix, both keeping his anonymity and leading the police to mistakenly believe Max is him. Fatally wounded by Max while hunting his last target, Vincent chooses to calmly accept his fate, giving Max some parting words before passing.
  • Con Air: Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom is a charismatic, ruthless psychopath who organizes the scheme to seize control of a flight full of convicts, then puts together the plan to exchange prisoners at Carson City and escape with his partner, a powerful drug lord, so he can flee to South America with his compatriots. Cyrus constantly displays a sardonic, dry wit and black humor even in stressful situations, before organizing an ambush for national guard troops and killing his drug lord partner when the man attempts to betray the convicts. Soon catching on to a traitor in their midst, Cyrus even survives the crash of the plan and nearly pulls off an escape to get revenge. A compelling villain who retains a few moral standards such as his hatred of rapists, Cyrus constantly plays the government for fools and comes perilously close to a free and clear escape.
  • Cypher: Sebastian Rooks is a dangerous freelance operative who has made a fortune inventing a brainwashing program for the mega corps DigiCorp and Sunway Systems, although loyal only to himself and his lover Rita Foster. In order to secure Rita's safety, Rooks hatches a plot to erase his own identity and become Morgan Sullivan, so he can pass a set of lie detector tests for one company and fail a set of lie detector tests for the other company to infiltrate both, all while appearing as a hapless pawn to both sides. By the end, all his enemies are dead, his plan to steal a specific data file is a complete success, and his real identity is still known only to Rooks and the woman he went to hell and back for.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy: Matching the brilliant title hero for wits, these villains are truly Diabolical Masterminds a cut above:
    • Batman Begins: This iteration of Ra's Al-Ghul, Big Bad Henry Ducard, is every bit as magnificent as his original counterpart and a major figure in Bruce Wayne's transformation to Batman. Ruthlessly devoted to a world free of corruption, Ducard sets the eyes of his League of Shadows on the city of Gotham, which he sees as disgustingly decadent. Taking advantage of greedy drug-runners, Ducard uses flowers by the mountain of the League's base to synthesize a powerful hallucinogenic that gives nightmarish visions, intending to use it to destroy Gotham. Keeping his plan hidden from the city police and Batman for much of the film, Ducard has his men steal a water vaporizer and infects the hydro lines with his toxin in preparation for making the chemical airborne and causing the civilians to tear the city apart. Burning Wayne Manor to the ground, Ducard loads his device onto a fake SWAT truck, releasing the inmates of Arkham and his fear toxin on the Narrows island, overwhelming the police force before trying to use Gotham's monorail to infect the city's main water supply and cause chaos throughout it. Although facing clear death after being defeated by Batman, Ducard nevertheless chooses to calmly accept his fate and his influence still lingers as his daughter returns to finish his work.
    • The Dark Knight Rises:
      • Bane, the man born in darkness, is a hulking beast of a man who is far more crafty than he appears. Once a prisoner in the world's worst prison, Bane sacrificed his health and safety to defend the young Talia Al-Ghul, forming a bond with her that would last for the rest of their lives. Intending on fulfilling Ra's Al-Ghul's mission, Bane allows a Gotham socialite to believe he is is just a common thug as he infiltrates Gotham to rig the stock exchange and bankrupt Wayne. Defeating and breaking Batman, Bane lures the entirety of Gotham's police into a trap underground, revealing the true downfall of Harvey Dent and inspiring the people of Gotham to true anarchy while holding the city hostage with a bomb after killing the only man who can disarm it. Intending to destroy Gotham, Bane holds the entirety of the city in his grip, being the one and only villain in the entirety of the trilogy to have succeeded in breaking Batman himself.
      • Talia Al-Ghul is the daughter of Bruce Wayne's former mentor Ra's Al-Ghul and the leader of the League of Shadows after his death. She grew up in a Hellhole Prison with her protector Bane before escaping, who subsequently became Talia's closest confidante. Talia and Bane set out to fulfill the late Rha's' goal to destroy Gotham in order to purge it of sin, exposing Harvey Dent's crimes to discredit his legacy that brought the city years of peace, bankrupting Wayne Enterprises through stock market speculation by using Bruce's stolen fingerprints, and manipulating Bruce to fall in love with Talia under the alias Miranda Tate to gain his trust and to give them control over the rest of Wayne Enterprise's assets. Talia and Bane decapitate the city's leadership, stir up class warfare, and steal a fusion bomb so they can blackmail the U.S. government into giving them full control over Gotham, while having Bruce locked away in their former prison so he can be witness to Gotham's destruction. Their reign of terror lasts months, despite knowing full well that the bomb will eventually explode anyway, and when Batman returns to stop them, they only pause to rub their impending victory into his face and the extent to which they drew out their vengeance and deceived him.
  • Dial M for Murder: After Tony Wendice discovering his wife Margot is cheating on him, he creates a complex plan to kill her while arranging a perfect alibi for himself and mentally punishing the man who cuckolded him at the same time. When Margot proves more resilient than he expected and kills the man he blackmailed into doing the deed, he only needs a few minutes to come up with a new plan to make it appear that she committed the act in cold blood. Even when his scheme is in danger of being exposed, he is quickly able to come up with a new way to turn the situation to his advantage. And finally when against all odds his whole plot is exposed, he turns out to be one of the all time great Graceful Losers, pouring wine for everyone who had a hand in finding him out (except a cop who he notes is still on duty).
  • Die Hard: These two show that magnificence runs in their family:
    • Die Hard: Hans Gruber is the mastermind behind the scheme to steal hundreds of millions in bearer bonds from the Nakatomi building. Meticulously orchestrating his operation, Hans shows his brilliance by constantly outmaneuvering the police and federal agents and his charisma by remaining level headed as his plan is disrupted and in his dealings negotiating with the hostages. To throw the cops off the trail of his robbery, Hans demands the release of the members of various terrorist groups, confusing the police force and hiding his true intentions. Confronted by the smug Ellis, Has tricks him into giving up McClane's name and nearly gets the location of the detonators McClane has taken. When caught unarmed by John McClane, Hans is instantly able to improvise with an American accent to pretend he is a hostage and throw off suspicion. Though utterly ruthless in the name of his avarice, Hans is an iconic villain because of his wit and charm, setting the stage for countless action villains to follow.
    • Die Hard with a Vengeance: Simon Gruber is a former soldier, Hans' older brother and master thief just like his sibling. Distracting the New York City police department with bomb threats, Simon strings along John McClane and Zeus to play games following his instructions lest he detonate his bombs. Pretending to be masterminding revenge for his brother, Simon mobilizes on his real goal: robbing the Federal Reserve for over one hundred billion dollars in gold bars, while the preoccupied police force leave it nearly completely unguarded for Simon and his men to plunder. When McClane attempts to follow his men, Simon improvises with a discarded bomb to flood the tunnel McClane is in, nearly drowning him. Alleging to destroy the gold to disrupt the American power-grasp on the world, Simon really means to make off with it himself. Every bit as adaptive and charming as Hans, Simon is yet another Gruber who shows to be a brilliant criminal.
  • Dollars Trilogy: "Blondie" or "The Man With no Name", starts as a ruthless conman willing to gun down bounty hunters to keep his heist with his partner Tuco going where he turns in Tuco to be hanged only to shoot the rope at the last minute. Through The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Blondie ends up playing Tuco and using him to force a confrontation with the evil Angel Eyes and claim the lost gold-though he leaves Tuco with his share after scaring him. In A Fistful of Dollars, Blondie contrives to play the evil Rojo family against their rivals, the Baxters, while playing the situation to his own advantage, before returning to rescue the innocents and finish off the Rojo leader. Blondie has flashes of ruthlessness and goodness in equal measure, routinely showing why he is one of the archetypal schemers and audacious gunslingers of Western cinema.
  • Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler : The ruthless, wicked Dr. Mabuse is a brilliant criminal and Master of Disguise who manipulates all around him into performing crimes while he benefits. Mabuse also hypnotizes others into crimes, or even losing at poker, one of his first crimes being to short the stock market after causing a panic. When a prosecutor locks onto him, Mabuse manipulates his own minions to stymie the investigation and defeat his nemesis while also leading a romantic rival of his into committing suicide. Even after his defeat, Mabuse's writings and testaments live on, along with possibly his very spirit to create a new Dr. Mabuse and continue his criminal activities.
  • Escape from Alcatraz: Frank Morris is a career criminal and prison escapee who is sent to Alcatraz Island to ensure his permanent imprisonment. While there, the stoic Morris hatches an escape plan with three other inmates that takes months of preparation, outwitting the guards repeatedly to get the necessary tools for the task and keeping their work a secret. Morris and two of his conspirators are the only men to escape Alcatraz and never be caught, only leaving behind a secret message for the Warden as a last taunt to his previous boast that no one will ever escape Alcatraz.
  • Filibus: Baroness Troixmonde is in truth the daring sky pirate Filibus. A Master of Disguise, Filibus places a bid to capture herself in as Troixmonde and cheerfully informs the detective in charge of hunting Filibus she knows he himself is Filibus before stealthily drugging him unconscious and framing him for her brilliant heists to the point he even believes he is committing the crimes while sleepwalking, all while she romances his sister Leonora after faking Leonora's kidnapping and rescue. When the inspector catches on, Filibus is seemingly captured, but escapes after robbing the international bank, leaving a friendly message to her nemesis that she looks forward to their next meeting and challenge.
  • Following: Cobb is ordered by a gangster (The Bald Guy) to kill one of his former lovers after she started blackmailing him, then notices that a stranger (the Writer) has been following him. He plays the Writer for a complete fool, implicating himself in the murder Cobb is planning under the guise of teaching him the art of burglary. He pretends to be working with the Blonde to implicate the Writer for another murder. He reveals he's working for the Bald Guy, kills the Blonde with the same weapon the Writer used earlier in another burglary, then disappears into thin air to let the Writer take the fall.
  • Fracture (2007): Theodore "Ted" Crawford hatches a plan that allows him to shoot his cheating wife, hide the murder weapon, confess to his crime, get himself acquitted and be immune against further prosecution, cause the suicide of the man sleeping with his wife, pull the plug on his comatose wife, and nearly get away with all of it. Crawford delights in playing mind games with the young hero Will Beachum, allowing Beachum to know he's guilty, but constantly dancing out of trouble via his own clever schemes until the end of the film. Despite being a murderer, Crawford manages to retain his charm and even a measure of sympathy, even handling his defeat with grace.
  • The Gift (2015): Gordon "Gordo" Moseley was a troubled youth horrendously bullied by Simon Callem during high school. Upon learning that Simon still mocks him behind his back, Gordo enacts a complex plan to get back at him. He would tap in to Simon's sound system so he would hear his every move, orchestrating several break-ins at his house, leak information about Simon's underhanded business tactics to his bosses costing Simon his job, and give Simon a video of Gordo next to his wife Robyn. When Simon demands Gordo if he had sex with Robyn, Gordo doesn't confirm or deny the fact causing Simon to rush to the hospital where he is met with scorn from Robyn, whom Gordo told her of Simon's bullying ways. With Simon breaking down after loosing his job and wife, Gordo watch from afar before walking away completely satisfied that he ruined Simon's life similar to how Simon ruined his life.
  • The Godfather:
    • The Godfather: Part I: Vito Corleone, the Godfather himself, is the charismatic head of the Corleone family who started the crime family from nothing. After being bullied in his youth by the supposed mafioso Don Fanucci, Vito soon outplayed and disposed of him, becoming a "treasured friend" to the neighborhood who traded favor for favor. Even in his old age, Vito is the true strength of the Corleone family, who holds most of New York's judges and politicians in his pocket. When he is gunned down by the assassins of Virgil Sollozzo, Vito later returns after his eldest son's death, but uses a peace summit to determine who the true mastermind of the war was before making plans so his son Michael will wipe out all the enemies of the family, even after Vito's death. An iconic who defined The Don, Vito misses little chance to show why he is the most talented and powerful Don in the nation.
    • The Godfather: Part II: Hyman Roth, seeking revenge for his protege and friend Moe Greene at Michael's hands, has Michael's brother Fredo manipulated into giving his men a chance to murder Michael. Also manipulating a situation in New York through his proxies the Rosato Brothers, Roth has them attempt to murder Michael's New York caporegime, Frank Pentangelli, while making him think it was Michael's doing. Roth then uses Frank's survival to get him to turn witness for the State, even buying out the members of the Senate's investigative committee so Michael will be personally indicted. Soft spoken and relaxed, Roth hides an utterly devious mind, seeking personal revenge under the guise of everything being "strictly business" and comes closest to bringing Michael down.
  • Hard Candy: Hayley Stark is an extremely gifted teenage girl, who uses her intellect to lure out pedophiles, rapist and murderers. Hayley gets them into a false sense of security making them believe she is a naive young girl, before tearing into to them both physically and emotionally, then driving them to suicide. Upon luring out Jeff, Hayley tears into him so bad that she pushes him into the Five Stages of Grief, until finally calling his alleged former hookup, Janelle, and threatening to play the victim card in front of her unless Jeff kills himself.
  • Heat: Neil McCauley is a master thief who organizes masterful heists to keep his lifestyle going. Pulling off a daring heist against an armored car to steal bearer bonds and then sell them back to their original owner, things go wrong when the psychotic Waingro executes a guard and escapes Neil's attempt to kill him in retribution. Neil then plans a masterful bank heist, executing it almost flawlessly if not for Waingro and his arch-nemesis Steve van Zant tipping off the cops. After losing his friends and comrades, Neil even forsakes a chance to get to safety in order to avenge them by killing van Zant and Waingro before facing off with his nemesis, LAPD cop Vincent Hanna with whom he shares an incredible respect despite being on the opposite ends of the law.
  • Hellboy: Grigori Rasputin is the agent of the Ogdru-Jahad on Earth, and the ultimate villain of the film. Responsible for summoning Hellboy in the first place during World War II, Rasputin returns from death sixty years after the fact in order to oversee the next stage of his plan, manipulating Liz into returning to the BAU, reviving Sammael the Desolate One, infiltrating the BAU with Kroenen, and using the murder of Professor Bruttenholm to bring Hellboy to Moscow. Luring the BAU team into his mausoleum, Rasputin subdues them all, and offers Hellboy a veritable Deal with the Devil, promising to return the soul he has stolen from Liz in exchange for Hellboy choosing to summon the Ogdru-Jahad and end the world. Killed when this plan fails, Rasputin's last act is to gloat as Sadu-Hem, spawn of the Ogdru-Jahad, uses his body to enter the world, proving with yet another death, that his own mortality is still no obstacle to his plans.
  • House on Haunted Hill: Frederick Loren is an eccentric millionaire who hosts a party for his wife Annabelle at a haunted house, with promises that any of the guests who make it until morning will receive 10,000 dollars. Seemingly paranoid about Annabelle's intentions. it turns out she is trying to murder Loren. Loren, however is aware of this, knowing one of the guests is her partner in crime seeking to murder him. Manipulating all the guests with fake hauntings, and faking his own death, Loren proceeds to murder Annabelle's lover and uses a skeleton to fool her into falling into a vat of acid before promising to give a full account to the authorities-albeit while concealing several details to make himself look more sympathetic.
  • Inside Man: Dalton Russel is a bank robber who meticulously plans out a heist in a certain bank, taking hostages and dressing them all the same as himself and his team so the police cannot act against them, before releasing them all. Secretly building a wall in the bank vault, Dalton hides there for days while having only robbed the bank owner's safe deposit vault, leaving clues to expose him as a war criminal who collaborated with the Nazis. Once the time is up, Dalton walks out of the bank completely free and clear, even leaving police negotiator Keith a diamond to propose to his girlfriend with. Freely acknowledging he did everything for the money, Dalton still admits there'd be no point to getting rich if he couldn't look at himself in the mirror.
  • James Bond: Of the many brilliant criminals and terrorists faced by the title character, these few manage to be even a cut about in suaveness and intelligence:
    • Dr. No: Dr. Julius No is one of SPECTRE's top operatives and a man of charm and charisma who rules Crab Key, Jamaiaca with his two metal fists. Seeking to disrupt a shuttle launch from America, No outplays everyone sent to the area until Bond's arrival, and even for much o the film Bond is entirely within No's power, only surviving thanks to outwitting No's assassins. When encountered by Bond, No reveals how he completely outwitted the Tongs after crawling up from nothing in Hong Kong as the son of a German missionary and a Chinese woman. Joining SPECTRE, No seeks to help overthrow the orders of east and west blocks alike, and remains one of the most dynamic and striking villains Bond ever faces.
    • The Man with the Golden Gun: Francisco Scaramanga was once a circus boy who loved an elephant. When the elephant was abused to death by its trainer, Scaramanga murdered the man and discovered a love for, and talent at killing. Becoming a master assassin, Scaramanga keeps his skills sharp by having his sidekick Nick Nack hire assassins to kill him so he can always test himself with his life on the line. Scaramanga also outplays the ostensible villain of the film, the industrialist Hai Fat, killing him to steal the powerful solar device to sell to the highest bidder and retire. When he has his hands on Bond, Scaramanga demonstrates his respect and wish to challenge Bond by challenging him to a duel, gleeful to show his own talents against the world's greatest secret agent.
    • Goldeneye: Once James Bond's best friend, Alec Trevelyan was the son of Cossacks who killed themselves after the betrayal of the British and Stalin's execution squads. Seeking revenge, Alec faked his death, betrayed the British and formed the Janus Crime syndicate. Alec proceeds to manipulate and organize several schemes to get his hands on the Goldeneye Satellite, even completely outwitting Bond and nearly killing him on several occasions, all while intending on robbing the British bank and then using the Goldeneye to erase the records, also nearly collapsing western civilization. One of Bond's most personal adversaries, Alec Trevelyan conducts himself with pure charisma, able to get under Bond's skin like no other by knowing him better than anyone else.
    • Skyfall: Once one of M's finest agents named Tiago Rodriguez, betrayed by her to the Chinese and tortured to the point of a bungled suicide that left him hideously disfigured, Raoul Silva escaped, joined SPECTRE under his new name and became a cyber-terrorist who plays the entirety of MI-6 perfectly. Using a series of terrorist attacks to lure out Bond, Silva proceeds to play mind games with him from their meetings, and allows his own capture so his encrypted laptop allows his men access to MI-6's systems. Escaping MI-6's custody, Silva hunts down M with the intention of achieving a mutual suicide with her, to end his pain with hers and secure his revenge against the woman he sees as a mother who betrayed him. One of Bond's most effective and brilliant adversaries, Silva even dies achieving almost everything he sets out to do, with M following him to death moments later.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service: Richmond Valentine is the Genre Savvy tech mogul who uses this good publicity to convince the general mass to get his SIM chips, while persuading the world's 1% into supporting his cause, implanting them SIM chips so to track their every move, making sure they don't betray him. It would soon be revealed that these SIM chips are connected to his satellites that when activated, would cause people to kill each other; he tests its capabilities on a racist church community with only a Kingsman surviving the onslaught, before killing the Kingsman himself. After which the full-scale of Valentine's plan is revealed; he would launch a global frequency that leads to general masses killing each other off with only Valentine and his followers surviving. Despite attempting to cause massive loss of life, it is done so out of Valentine's belief of saving the world and the rest of humanity and is genuinely affable to allies and enemies alike, even asking Eggsy if he's going to make an incredibly lame pun before going out with a smile.
  • L.A. Confidential: The film version of Captain Dudley Smith is a charming, witty corrupt police officer who tries to get control of all criminal activity in Los Angeles after the fall of gangster Mickey Cohen leaves a power vacuum behind. He chases away or kills off all criminal opposition in the city. When officer Dick Stensland and private bodyguard Buzz Meeks try to get more out of a major heroin deal they made with him he kills both of them, one in a diner massacre that leaves a dozen innocent people dead. He frames a trio of rapist criminals for the massacre, and orders them killed during the arrest by his associates to make sure they won't talk. After manipulating the entire department, he later begins eliminating loose ends and even sets up his young rival Edmund Exley sleeping with his muscle Bud White's girlfriend to trick Bud into killing Edmund to get rid of them both. Coming within an inch of victory, Dudley embodies both the charm and corruption that a police badge can conceal.
  • Labyrinth: Jareth the Goblin King is a charismatic, manipulative goblin expertly played by David Bowie. First summoned by heroine Sarah, Jareth kidnaps her baby brother to lure her to him, spending the film manipulating the rest of the cast and tricking Sarah into eating an enchanted peach to make her more susceptible to his influence. Jareth shows a genuine care for Sarah, even if he is not above ruthlessly manipulating her and everyone else in the film, but never loses his sense of charm, flamboyance and friendliness, who even seems to care for the child he kidnaps upon her sister's rash wish.
  • Last Action Hero: Benedict, though starting out as Tony Vivaldi's self-proclaimed lackey, quickly proves himself to be the true menace of the film. An exceptional hitman whose marksmanship is only rivaled by his dry wit, Benedict is the real mover and shaker of Vivaldi's operations, and, briskly picking up on the fact that young Danny knows far more about him than he should, Benedict ultimately gets his hands on Danny's magic ticket, enabling him to betray Vivaldi and travel from the Jack Slater film series into the real world. Both disgusted and intrigued by the lack of empathy "real" people display towards their fellow man, Benedict guns down a mechanic to test his theory on this, and, upon receiving no comeuppance, concocts his master plan to bring forth every movie villain to the real world, simply because "in THIS world the bad guys can WIN!" When confronted by Slater, Benedict fatally wounds the thus-far nigh-invulnerable hero with a simple yet brilliant tactic: tricking him into the open by making Slater believe Benedict's gun is has clicked empty, when truthfully, he "just left one chamber empty" before gunning Jack down.
  • Last of the Mohicans: The Huron warrior Magua was enslaved by the Mohawks thanks to the British Colonel Munro. Seeking revenge, Magua won over the Mohawk, becoming their blood brother until he could rejoin the Huron, only to discover his wife, thinking him dead, had married another after their children died. Filled with rage, Magua bides his time, leading a British patrol to its doom and later causes the fall of Munro's fort before massacring his followers and carving Munro's heart out before seeking to kill his daughters. When he faces Nathaniel Bumpo's adoptive brother Uncas, Magua shows his skill by killing him with no effort whatsoever, repeatedly showing why he is one of the most dangerous men on the frontier.
  • Law Abiding Citizen: Clyde Shelton, after losing his family to the depraved Clarence Darby, schemes for years, studying law and the city to murder Darby himself, and gets arrested, conniving to pull off a series of attacks against all he holds responsible for Darby's freedom. Seeing the judicial system as inherently corrupt, Shelton holds the city in a grip of terror, making his own demands that most are powerless against, to make his statements against what he views as a corrupt system. Even at the end, when he realizes his life is about to end, Clyde maintains sympathy by dying in a dignified manner, only staring at a bracelet his beloved daughter made him before the end.
  • Lucky Number Slevin: Slevin Kelevra was just a normal kid when both his parents were murdered on the orders of two mob bossess, The Boss and The Rabbi, to make an example of his father for trying to place a bet on a fixed horse race. The contract killer sent to take care of Slevin, Mr. Goodkat, couldn't bring himself to kill Slevin and instead raised him to follow in his footsteps as an assassin. Slevin spent years plotting the demise of his parents' killers with Goodkat's help, killing the Boss's son and both bosses' book keepers to make them even more paranoid of each other after they had already previously broken up their partnership. Goodkat then kills Nick Fisher so Slevin can pose as Nick's friend and be taken to the bosses to settle Nick's outstanding debts to both men. Slevin makes himself appear harmless before later killing the Rabbi's son as well and faking his own death, then kidnapping both mob bosses and suffocating them to death after explaining his reasons for wanting revenge. Slevin demonstrates that a dish Best Served Cold requires real mastery of the Kansas City Shuffle.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: These select few manage to stand out from the crowd due to sheer intelligence.
    • Captain America: Civil War: Helmut Zemo proves his stripes as one of the greatest manipulators of the franchise. Overcome with grief over losing his family during the Avengers battle with Ultron, Zemo decides to enact vengeance against them. Knowing he is no match for them in strength, Zemo instead devises an intricate plan to break them up. Launching an attack on a UN conference, Zemo frames Bucky Barnes for the attack which starts a manhunt against him. After Bucky is captured, Zemo impersonates a UN interrogator to activate Bucky's Trigger Phrase which will put him under his control to give him information on the death of Tony Stark's parents. Finally, Zemo leaks this ruse to the media, counting on Tony Stark following Cap and Bucky to the Hydra compound in Siberia so he can accomplish his real plan: show Tony evidence that Bucky killed his parents, causing him to fly into a murderous rage and attack Bucky and Captain America, permanently fracturing the Avengers in a way they may never fully recover from. By the end, in spite of being captured by T'Challa, Zemo still accomplishes what he wanted and gracefully accepts his capture and even offers to let T'Challa kill him to avenge the death of his father. Zemo stands out in a world full of super-powered beings, aliens, sorcerers and cosmic entities with only his intelligence and able to cement himself as one of the work's most successful villain, being the man who broke the Avengers.
    • Spiderman Homecoming: Adrian Toomes was once a hard working man who made a living salvaging Chitauri technology from The Incident. After having his occupation taken by Damage Control, he became a career criminal, taking the moniker The Vulture, and turning what was left of his salvaging company into an underground arms dealership, that would steal said technology and sell it to criminals. Toomes made sure not to leave any evidence for government officials to track his operations, while also making sure they aren't too big so that the Avengers won't view them as a threat; This process worked great for Toomes and his criminal business lasted for eight years without any problems. However, when he does face a problem in Spider-Man he isn't afraid to fight Spider-Man himself on several occasions; Spider-Man barely manages to survive those encounters with him. He is also able to uncover Spider-Man's civilian identity, Peter Parker, simply by analyzing Peter's behavior, and finds an opportunity to intimidate Peter from interfering with his operations. When this fails he sends The Shocker to distract Peter and later fights him for the final time so he wouldn't foil Toomes' latest heist job. Although threatening to kill Peter and his loved ones, its shown that Toomes greatly respects him, showing gratitude for saving his daughter's life, as well as his own, by not selling out his Secret Identity in prison, cementing Adrian Toomes as one of the most honorable, yet cunning foes in the films.
  • Master of the World: The brilliant Jean Robur believes in peace through strength. In his power flying machine, Robur launches attacks on key spots in the world to disable military capabilities and force a lasting armistice through the world, while being a charming and charismatic leader to his crew. Throughout the film, Robur constantly remains a step ahead, hellbent on enforcing his ideals on the world and coming close to victory before the heroes disable his ship. Ordering his men to flee, they instead choose to face the end with him, which he spends reading aloud a passage from the bible concerning world peace.
  • Miller's Crossing: Tom Reagan is the right hand man to Leo, an Irish-American mobster, but it's clear who has the brains in the operation. Tom is a duplicitous alcoholic who's sleeping with Leo's fiancee and spends the movie double-crossing everyone he meets, regardless of the damage Tom suffers in the process. Then, at the end, it turns out the whole movie was a Zero-Approval Gambit on Tom's part. Everything he did, he did for Leo in the most unscrupulous way possible. He manipulates Leo's enemies into killing each other, having Leo's greatest rival murder his own terrifying enforcer Eddie Dane when Dane is distracted before leading said rival to his own death. Tom then personally murders his devious former friend, the smug Bernie Bernbaum to ensure Leo remains firmly in power.
  • Minority Report: Lamar Burgess is the director and founder of the Precrime program, which uses premonitions extracted from three telepathic humans to predict and prevent all murder within the Washington D.C. area. However, at the same time Burgess is cunning enough to have literally made a career out of faking out Precrime; first by disguising Anne Lively's murder as an "echo", then by disguising all three visions of Crow's death as brown balls by putting the plan in action while Anderton was at the office, ensuring that he would either be arrested immediately or run, so when Crow would be found with the Orgy of Evidence that could lead Anderton to murder him, it looked planned by Anderton. When Federal Agent Danny Witwer catches on to him, Burgess promptly murders him, knowing that the system being deactivated will allow him to get away with it. The only thing Burgess couldn't see coming was Anderton figuring out everything in time to tell it all to his wife, even if he wasn't free to act on the information himself. However, even when his plot is exposed and faced with the impossible choice of either killing Anderton and going to prison or letting him live and discredit Precrime, Burgess manages to go out on his own terms by killing himself instead.
  • Muppet Treasure Island: Long John Silver is a charming, bombastic pirate much like his book counterpart. After manipulating the mutiny against their captain by bringing in pirates to infiltrate the vessel, Silver plans to obtain the treasure of Captain Flint and also sway young Jim Hawkins to his side. Even when pressed against the wall by his crew's mutiny, Silver selflessly defends Jim, saying he was never lying about caring for the boy, and when held hostage by his captors, he manipulates his way back to control by threatening them with eternal damnation. As pleasant, charming and ruthless as his book counterpart, Silver is the utter pinnacle of what a professional pirate should be.
  • The Name of the Rose: Jorge De Burgos is a blind, elder monk wholly convinced that mankind's salvation lies in complete obedience to God. Abhorring the ancient literature contained in the labyrinth beneath the abbey for what he perceives as its blasphemous humor, Jorge uses a book with a poisoned page to kill several monks who had knowledge of the secret library, which prompts the Abbey to call for the Jesuit William of Baskerville to investigate the mysterious deaths. When William eventually discovers the library, Jorge tries to trick William into touching the poisoned book, and when this fails, eats the poisoned pages himself and sets fire to the library, ensuring Christendom's supremacy for centuries to come.
  • Phone Booth: The unnamed caller is a vigilante sniper who targets Asshole Victims, tormenting them to force them to become honest lest he kill them. Targeting Stuart "Stu" Shepard for cheating on his wife, the caller makes him play a series of psychological games to break him into becoming honest. Killing a pimp who tries to get Stu out of the phone booth, the caller is forcing him to stay inside and leaves a handgun atop its roof, leading to Stu being incriminated for the murder. Forcing Stu to confess to his wife when she arrives on the scene, the caller kills a Pizza Delivery guy to frame him for his crimes, leaving while promising Stu he will return if he goes back to his callous ways.
  • Public Enemies: The charming bank robber John Dillinger pulls off heist after heist on guarded banks while leading his gang, never losing his gentlemanly exterior and refusal to rob civilians that makes him a folk hero to many. Upon being arrested thanks to a fire at his hotel, Dillinger carves a wooden pistol and uses it to take the guards hostage, bluffing his way to freedom where he resumes his usual activities and remains one step ahead of the law the whole way through. Dillinger at one point even strolls into a police station wearing a disguise just to ask the cops the score to a baseball game out of sheer audacity, repeatedly showing that as one man against the federal government, he usually has the advantage.
  • Ran: Lady Kaede is the true villain of the film. Desiring revenge against Hidetora and the Ichimonji clan for slaughtering her family years ago, Kaede convinces her husband, Hidetora's eldest son Taro, to usurp his father and war against his brother Jiro. Upon Taro's death, she effortlessly seduces Jiro, convinces him to kill his wife and then manipulates him into disastrous strategies that bring the Ichimonji to ruin. When Jiro's general Kurogane confronts her when the battle is lost, Kaede calmly admits to everything, showing absolutely no fear of dying with her ultimate goals achieved.
  • The Running Man: One of the most dynamic villains of 80s action cinema, Damon Killian is a smiling, charming game show host who runs and created the "Running Man" where criminals are hunted down by the state sanctioned "Stalkers". With enough power to blackmail even the dystopian government itself, Killian forces them to give him The Hero Ben Richards for the game and tricks him into participating willingly, also throwing Richards' friends into the game as Killian plays the crowd against Richards and the rest even while upping the ante to finish them off. Having any supposed winners of the show secretly murdered, Killian in effect controls the population through his shows, and when Richards threatens he will be back before being launched in the game, Killian's only response? "Only in a rerun".
  • Saw: John Kramer aka the Jigsaw Killer was a law-abiding civil engineer before losing his unborn son, becoming estranged from his wife, and being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in quick succession. Jigsaw uses his skills and intellect to become a prolific Serial Killer, designing elaborate death traps and picking his victims on the basis of their perceived lack of gratitude for the blessing of life. Fostering multiple protegés, only some of whom are even aware of each other, Jigsaw blackmails a hospital orderly to impersonate him to allay suspicion, manages to escape from police custody by manipulating the lead detective responsible for capturing him, uses his more devoted followers as back-up insurance against those who do not follow his teachings properly, and is responsible for schemes planned so far in advance that he continues to effect events even a decade after his death.
  • Swordfish: The black ops operative who goes by Gabriel Shear is an agent who puts on the air of a charismatic, charming playboy who lives the high life, but under it is a man dedicated to preserving the supremacy and security of America by utterly destroying terrorists and dealing so much damage that nobody will dream of harboring terrorists again. Manipulating the hacker and hero Stanley, Gabriel sets up a complex heist to steal billions to fund his operation, murdering the Senator behind the program when the man betrays and tries to kill Gabriel. Gabriel sets up a robbery with hostages, murdering Stanley's ex-wife and kidnapping his daughter to force him to cooperate. Boasting of the need for misdirection, Gabriel fakes his partner Ginger's death, then fakes his own and escapes completely free to wage his own one man war against terrorism with no care for whoever gets in his way.
  • Sympathy for Lady Vengeance: Lee Geum-ja once took the fall for murder for her older lover Mr. Baek, who threatened to murder her daughter if she refused. Geum-ja spends over a decade in prison, cultivating a reputation as a kind-hearted saint who does favors for everyone, even giving a kidney for a woman who needs an operation. Geum-ja also poisons the rapist prison bully, and upon being released sets about getting revenge on Baek. Calling on all her favors and finding her daughter, she manipulates Baek to his capture and discovers he is a serial child killer. To deal with him, she allows the parents of his victims to torture him to death, and insure equal complicity so that none of them will talk without implication themselves.
  • Target (2018): Raditya Dika's friend, Hifdzi Khoir, is the mastermind behind the suffering of Dika and his other friends. Kidnapping the wife of a master hypnotist, he forces the hypnotist into playing as the patsy of his schemes. Seemingly a Butt-Monkey for much of the film, he pretends to suffer injuries to force his friends into being contestants in the decoy mastermind's game. Saving the survivors from the decoy mastermind, he reveals himself to be the one pulling the strings, making off safely after playing his friends. Though Hifdzi showed he was a callous manipulator, his whole scheme was done to honor his late father and show his disgust for what he sees as deceit in modern movies studios fabricating their stories.
  • The Third Man: Harry Lime is a racketeer selling black market penicillin in post-war Vienna, completely untroubled by pangs of conscience. Calling his friend Holly Martins to Vienna, Harry fakes his own death to throw suspicion off himself, manipulating his old girlfriend Anna, as well as Holly and the police while he remains off the radar. Constantly staying a step ahead of everyone, Harry continuously attempts to put himself back in the good graces of those he's abandoned, which keeps working thanks to his charm and pleasant demeanor. Never at a loss for a smile, Harry won't hesitate to play a situation to his benefit, no matter what.
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1999): Thomas Crown is a debonair billionaire and art connoisseur who dabbles in high-profile thefts out of boredom. Crown stages an ingenious theft of a Monet painting from the Metropolitan Museum of Art by enlisting a group of criminals through a middle man to infiltrate the museum dressed as guards, then initiate a fight between the criminals and the guards to divert attention from his real objective. Crown also arranged for the camera footage to be rendered useless by planting a humidifier in the room, and a titanium-reenforced briefcase to absorb the weight from the security gate, allowing him to walk out of the building with his prize through the front door. When insurance investigator Catherine Banning and the NYPD get on his trail, he tauntingly eludes their efforts to retrieve the painting on several occasions. After Crown falls in love with Catherine, he arranges to run away with her, but not before returning the painting to the museum and eluding dozens of cops waiting for him with a Ringer Ploy, while at the same time stealing another priceless painting as a gift to Catherine.
  • Touch of Evil: The intense, ruthless police captain Hank Quinlan once lost his beloved wife to violent crime and is dedicated to bringing down criminals whenever he finds them. Quinlan resorts to framing those he believes to be guilty, setting them up to be convicted. When he locks on to a potential bomber, Quinlan runs afoul of the Mexican investigator Vargas who suspects Quinlan of framing others, prompting Quinlan to attempt to ruin him by trying to frame his fiancee for the murder of a criminal named Grandin who Quinlan personally outwits and murders. Even at the end, Quinlan sees through a potential trap and is only stopped with the betrayal of his former best friend Menzies, who Quinlan once took a bullet for. When confronted and asked dhow many he has framed, Quinlan's only is to declare "nobody who wasn't guilty".
  • Unbreakable: Elijah Price, aka "Mr. Glass", was born with a genetic disease that causes his bones to be exceptionally brittle. After seeking solace in comic books handed him by his mother, he sets out to fulfill his life's purpose by becoming a supervillain and finding his heroic counterpart. He orchestrates several large-scale disasters such as train wrecks, hotel fires, and blowing up passenger planes, until he finally finds a miraculous Sole Survivor in David Dunn. Elijah proceeds to stalk David and his family, subtly manipulating him into fulfilling his destiny as a superhero until David answers his calling and saves several lives. Only then does Elijah knowingly expose his machinations to David, revealing David's new friend to in fact be his ultimate arch-nemesis, an Evil Genius who managed to kill hundreds while remaining undetected and was able to hide his true nature even from the hero.
  • The Usual Suspects: Keyser Söze is a mysterious Diabolical Mastermind who lives a double life as the disabled Roger "Verbal" Kint. Söze organized a hit on a drug gang to kill one of their prisoners before killing his accomplices and setting fire to the scene. Arrested by the police, Söze, as Kint, successfully spun lies to the investigators to pin everything on accomplice Dean Keaton. Once he got his bail, Söze practically waltzed out the police station and vanished before the investigators could realize the truth. For years, Söze has kept his own existence under wraps, and those who know of his existence know nothing else about him.
  • Wild Things: Suzie Toller is a teenage girl from the wrong side of the tracks, masking her genius-level intellect by appearing as white trash. After one of her best friends was murdered by corrupt cop Ray Duquette, who then busted her on a bogus charge, Suzie vowed revenge. She hatches a plot wherein Suzie, her guidance counselor Sam Lombardo and Kelly Van Ryan, the rich girl Sam was sleeping with, are able to con Kelly's mother Sandra Van Ryan out of millions of dollars by having both girls falsely accuse Sam of rape, then cracking on the stand and opening the Van Ryans to a countersuit. Suzie also ordered Sam to draw Ray Duquette into the scheme by convincing him that he and Sam would get rid of both girls and split the money between the two of them instead of three-ways. After multiple betrayals and counter-betrayals and even faking her own death, at the end Suzie is the only conspirator left standing: a high-school drop-out responsible for several murders with a fortune safely stored away in an overseas account.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): The God of War, Ares, once wiped out his fellow gods when they quarreled over Ares' wish to eliminate humanity. Surviving while injured and crippled, Ares instead plays on humanity's own preexisting prejudices and fears to sway them to destroy themselves, giving humans ideas for weapons and helping to manufacture peace that he knows they can't keep, setting the stage and giving them the matches to burn it down. When he reveals himself to Diana, Ares elaborates on his methods, also wishing Diana to join him to wipe out humanity and make the world a paradise.

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